Thursday, March 15, 2018

2018 URCA Booklet Now Available Online

The 2018 Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) Symposium is quickly approaching on Wednesday, April 11 and the abstract booklet is now available to view online. The URCA booklet includes session schedules along with abstracts of all of the presentations.

CAS Dean Dr. Dawn Weber describes URCA as "Following the format of a professional conference, students will present original research, perform theatrical and musical selections, read original creative writing, and exhibit their artwork."

Unique to this year's event, two arts and sciences alumni will present their current research. Mary Moeller graduated in 2015 with a degree in psychology. She is currently a third year graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Bowling Green State University (see p. 9). Dr. Josh Allen completed majors in toxicology and psychology in 2007. He is currently a Principal Research Scientist and Study Director at Battelle (see p. 11).

For more information about URCA 2018, be sure to follow this blog for updates.

Monday, November 13, 2017

URCA 2018 Call for Abstracts: Due Jan. 26

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Symposium Committee is pleased to announce the Call for Abstracts for the Eighth Annual College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) Symposium. This event will highlight the research, scholarly, and creative activities of students throughout the College of Arts and Sciences, and will be held on Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Please consider submitting your work to the Symposium!

All students who are declared majors in a program within the College of Arts and Sciences are invited to participate in this year’s Symposium. Group projects in which some members are majoring outside of the College of Arts and Sciences will be considered by the URCA Committee. Current students, as well as December 2017 graduates, are welcome to present their work. Presenters may choose to give an oral presentation, poster presentation, exhibition, or performance. All presentations should have a significant research or creative component; examples of such include, but are not limited to, summer research conducted at Ashland University or elsewhere, results of independent study projects, thesis work, literary readings or analysis, musical or theatrical performances, and exhibitions of artwork.

All abstracts submitted require approval of a faculty sponsor who is familiar with the student’s work and can attest to the quality of the work. At the time of submission, students will indicate who their faculty sponsor is. The URCA Symposium committee will then contact the sponsor via e-mail to confirm that the sponsor has viewed and approved the abstract. In approving a submission, a faculty sponsor is indicating that the abstract meets the faculty sponsor’s standard for professional work, and that the abstract is print-ready. Submissions that have not been approved by a faculty sponsor will not be accepted for presentation.

Students who wish to present at the Symposium should contact a College of Arts and Sciences faculty member who can act as a faculty sponsor. When the project is ready, the student should work with the faculty sponsor to prepare an abstract in Microsoft Word and email that Word document to the URCA Symposium Committee at Students must copy their faculty sponsors on the email that contains the submission. The deadline for submitting abstracts is 5 p.m. on Friday, January 26, 2018. This deadline is firm.

A complete submission must include ALL of the following:
  1. Name of Student Presenter(s)
  2. Campus AND Home Addresses of Student Presenter(s)
  3. Class Year (e.g. junior, senior) and Major(s) of Student Presenter(s)
  4. Name of Faculty Sponsor
  5. College of Arts and Sciences program in which the work is focused (e.g. Biology, Psychology, Music)
  6. Title of the Presentation
  7. Preferred Format of Presentation (Poster Presentation, 12 Minute Performance, 12 Minute Oral Presentation, or Art Exhibition)
  8. Special Equipment Required (PCs and projectors are provided; if no other equipment is needed, please indicate “No special equipment needed”)
  9. Body of the Abstract (250 words or fewer)
  10. Anticipated Scheduling Conflicts for Symposium on 4/11/18 (e.g. COBE/COE/CON class meetings, athletic events, or other commitments that cannot be moved on this date; if none, please indicate “No scheduling conflicts anticipated”)
Students who would like to see examples of acceptable abstracts may view abstracts from the prior years’ events on URCA blog ( Additionally, these submission instructions and helpful hints for preparing submissions will be archived on the blog. The URCA committee will hold an abstract writing workshop in January in order to assist students in polishing their abstracts. In the meantime, should you have any questions about presenting at the Symposium or the abstract submission process, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Jeff Weidenhamer at Questions may also be directed to members of the URCA Symposium Committee:

URCA Symposium Committee
Dr. Christopher Burkett, History/Political Science
Dr. Christopher Chartier, Psychology
Dr. Hilary Donatini, English
Prof. Scott Garlock, Music
Prof. Wendy Schaller, Art
Dr. Gordon Swain, Mathematics

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

URCA 2018: Wed., April 11

Save the Date for the 2018 Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Symposium for Wednesday, April 11.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Emily Law Models Impact of Squeezed Light on Quantum Noise

Courtesy Caltech/MIT/LIGO Laboratory
Physics and Mathematics major Emily Law will present at the 12:45 p.m. poster session at URCA on April 11. As advised by her faculty sponsor, Dr. Rodney Michael, she will explain "the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), (which) is dedicated to detecting cosmic gravitational waves and determining their astronomical origin. LIGO has recently made several detections of black hole mergers by measuring laser fluctuations in the arms of its interferometer." She will also "describe a computational code that calculates the quantum noise in (a) prototype experiment...(eventually leading to) understanding the effects of squeezed light on quantum noise (which) will allow for better observations of gravitational waves in the future."

Friday, April 7, 2017

Music Quartet Demonstrates Performance without a Conductor

At the 2 p.m. URCA session in the Trustees Room, Chanel Bluntschly, Michael Byndas, Joshua Thompson and Jason Wolf (Environmental Science, Actuarial Science, Music Education and Geology majors, respectively) will explain and demonstrate through a music quartet performance the communication skills needed to perform without a conductor. 

With Dr. Thomas Reed as their faculty sponsor, the students play as a saxophone quartet without a conductor and must take on the responsibilities of changes in tempo, stops and starts, volume, and every other aspect of a piece. As the players move with each other, listening to the other musician’s parts, a circuit is completed which allows music to be made. To help demonstrate the skills that their ensemble has developed, there will an explanation of techniques to watch for followed by a presentation of a few excerpts to illustrate these skills.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Isabella Steiner Investigates Salamanders

Biology major Isabella Steiner will reveal the results of her study "A Population on its Way Out? Investigating the Population Size and Ploidy of Ambystomid Salamanders at the Ashland University Black Fork Wetlands" on Tuesday at the 2017 URCA Symposium during the 11:45 a.m. poster session in the Alumni Room.

With support from her faculty sponsor, Prof. Merrill Tawse (Biology/Toxicology), Isabella asked the question whether the ambystomid salamanders is a stable, increasing or a declining population. After trapping, counting and categorizing the salamanders, they were then tested for polyploidy (occurrence of additional sets of chromosomes). Find out the results at #URCA2017.

Wirtz Argues for Fair Treatment of Syrian Refugees

Triple major Emily Wirtz (Psychology, Creative Writing, Religion) will present her arguments for the acceptance and fair treatment of Syrian refugees at URCA's 2 p.m. session in the Trustees Room on April 11. Titled "Am I My Brother’s Keeper?": A Catholic Response to the Refugee Crisis and Wrongful and Assimilation and sponsored by religion professor Dr. Craig Hovey, "This research project addresses some of the moral and political issues relating to the Syrian refugee crisis from a Roman Catholic perspective." In her abstract, Emily further explains that she was drawn to this issue due to the experience that she had during a summer internship at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House, which allowed her to peek into the modern world of a refugee and recognize the humanity that Catholic Christians are called to see.